On behalf of more than 3,200 churches and as state missions leader of the third-oldest state convention in the SBC, let me say welcome to Alabama and welcome to Birmingham.
One of the common nicknames for Birmingham in our state is “The Magic City.” I prefer to think of Birmingham as “A City on the Move.”
Things to Do
Maybe while in the area you will have the opportunity to visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which features a series of galleries including the Movement Gallery that depicts the Civil Rights movement from 1955 to 1963.
The Institute’s Processional Gallery uses life-size figures to represent all ages and races to portray the “walk to freedom.”
There are dozens of other family-friendly destinations available, such as these suggested by the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau (GBCVB):
- The Birmingham Zoo, 122-acre home to nine hundred animals from six continents.
- Alabama Splash Adventure, located in nearby Bessemer—a combination water park and amusement park with waterslides, rides, and an eight-hundred-thousand-gallon wave pool, lazy river, and water playground.
- McWane Science Center, with four floors of hands-on exhibits and an IMAX Dome Theatre.
- Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, a thirty-three-thousand-square-foot facility with more than five thousand sports artifacts, including exhibits about Paul “Bear” Bryant, Jesse Owens, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Joe Louis.
- Vulcan Park and Museum, home to the world’s largest cast-iron statue, which is fifty-six feet tall and made of one hundred thousand pounds of iron, overlooking the city from atop Red Mountain.
- Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Leeds, home to more than 1,200 vintage and modern motorcycles and race cars, ranging in manufacture date from 1902 to recent years. The museum is adjacent to Barber Motorsports Park, a world-class 2.3-mile road course and home to the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama.
- Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, a 1,011-acre nature preserve with easy- to moderate-level hiking trails. Visitors will see a diversity of plant and animal life, including resident and migratory birds. The Visitors Center has exhibits including raptors, turtles, and other native Alabama wildlife.
- Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark, once the world’s largest manufacturer of pig iron, stands as a monument to the Industrial Revolution. Guided and self-guided tours are available. The visitor center offers a self-guided tour brochure, a short video, storyboards, exhibits, and a gift shop.
For dozens of other possibilities compiled by the GBCVB, check out www.inbirmingham.com
Southern Baptist Cooperation
Alabama Baptists take pride in being team players with the Southern Baptist Convention. Alabama Baptists are pacesetters in giving through the Cooperative Program, our unified budget which supports our missions endeavors in Baptist life.
Our state convention’s president, Tim Cox, serves as senior pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Chelsea, part of the Birmingham metropolitan area in nearby Shelby County. Danny Wood, pastor of Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham’s Vestavia Hills area, is president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference.
The Birmingham Metro Baptist Association is a family of 128 congregations with Chris Crain as associational missionary, Jim Cooley of First Baptist Church of Birmingham as moderator, and Rosevelt Morris, Sr, associate pastor of Sixth Avenue Baptist Church, as immediate past moderator.
Not since 1941 has Birmingham hosted an SBC annual meeting, and we are especially grateful for the opportunity to help facilitate Crossover Birmingham, an evangelistic outreach initiative that will see the Gospel shared across the metro area. NAMB has set a goal of reaching twenty thousand homes with the Gospel through this effort.
An evangelism training and kick-off rally will be held for all volunteers on the evening of June 5. On June 8, volunteers will participate in door-to-door evangelism. Please check out the details and register at namb.net/crossover.
I hope you can participate in both Crossover Birmingham and the Convention meeting. Please pray for those who hear the Gospel—that they will receive it gladly and experience the new, abundant life that only Christ can offer.
A City of Change
As someone who grew up in Birmingham and served as pastor in the city early in my ministry, it is obvious that Birmingham is under construction to become a new city. This is literally true with our interstate highways being reconstructed in a major way, even as the time for the SBC meeting draws near.
The city has been and is being renovated during an extended period of time. In fact, as you pray for the SBC meeting in Birmingham, a prayer for patience would be in order!
The Birmingham of the twenty-first century is not the Birmingham of the past. This is a forward-looking city with an eye on the goal of becoming an even better place to live, to work, and to worship. However, those of us who have lived in Alabama, and particularly in the Birmingham metro area, have learned some difficult lessons from the past. We pray we will not allow those lessons to be forgotten.
The city has had some rocky days in the past but it has a hopeful present. Please pray that it will have a vibrant future with important seeds being planted during Crossover Birmingham as the Gospel is shared with people who need to know Christ and His love.
Rick Lance is executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions and is a member of First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.